Maharashtra govt reins in elite service officers

Nov 10, 2015, 00:19 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Stern warning issued to erring officials in Maharashtra, who exploit their political connections at the Centre to seek plum postings, transfers, deputations and redressal of grievances

The state government has issued a notification to the officers of the Central Civil Services, not to ignore the prescribed channels for resolution of service rights.

The Central Civil Services include the elite Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and Indian Police Services (IPS) who ignore the right channels for seeking resolution in various matters by writing directly to the PM’s Office, Central ministers and secretary (personnel) have been asked to mend their ways or face disciplinary action.

A notification to this regard was issued by the state government on October 31. Interestingly, this diktat came a day before CM Devendra Fadnavis blamed the state bureaucracy for creating hurdles in implementing schemes that his government has initiated in the past one year.

The directive is seen as a stern warning to erring officials, who prefer exploiting their political connections to ask for plum postings, transfers, deputations and redressal of grievances.

Ancient guidelines
The notification is based on the Union government’s initiative. The Centre has invoked guidelines/instructions that are in place since April 30, 1952 in the past, and were circulated time and again by respective governments, recently in June 2013 and August 2015.

The Maharashtra government too is trying to rein in the powerful Central Civil Services (CCS) of which hundreds of officials, mainly from the IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Services, form the top echelon. These officials are recruited by the Union Public Service Commission (the Centre) and then sent to the states/union territories.

The government says that a proper course for an officer is to address his/her immediate official superior, or the head of office, or any such authority at the lowest level as is competent to deal with the matter.

The directive points out that other than individual representations, the service unions have also developed a tendency to write to the PM and ministers on individual grievances. “Some of these grievances are often forwarded to Members of Parliament, in violations of the rule 20 of the CCS (conduct) Rule-1964,” says the state government directive.

“As such, submissions of representations directly to higher authorities by-passing the prescribed channel of communication has to be viewed seriously and appropriate disciplinary action should be taken against those who violate these instructions as it can rightly be treated as unbecoming conduct attracting the provisions of Rule 3 (1) (iii) of CCS (conduct) Rules – 1964,” says the state government directive.

Old habits...
An observation made in the 1952 memorandum makes one believe that generations of officials have been practising the same method for decades. “Some government servants are in the habit of sending copies of their representation also to the authorities who are not directly concerned.

This is a most objectionable practice, contrary to official propriety and subversive of good discipline and all government servants are expected scrupulously to eschew it,” says the Central government memorandum, which comes tagged with the fresh directive.

Some IAS and IPS officers whom mid-day contacted about the development said that it was just yet another formality and it shouldn’t bother them much. “A practice of writing directly to higher authorities has been there since decades.

At least three-four generations of the CCS have served this country and nothing has stopped us from doing it,” said a senior secretary, requesting anonymity.

Perform or perish, CM warns babus
CM Devendra Fadnavis continues to be upset over inefficient bureaucrats, who are not supporting the government by reaching out to the masses with reforms and welfare schemes. He said on Monday that disciplinary action would be initiated against the babus, unmindful of their ranks, if they don’t respond to his sincere appeal to perform better.

According to the CM, some 30 per cent of top bureaucracy was still inactive as far as his government’s initiatives were concerned. He added that some 50 per cent of officers at the district level sat on reforms and welfare schemes that have happened in the past 12 months.

Last Friday, Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya asked all departmental secretaries to spend at least two days every week at the divisional/district level to monitor implementation of government schemes. The orders were issued after CM Fadnavis’ public displeasure. Kshatriya held a meeting of secretaries last week and issued a directive to senior IAS officers.

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